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Sandy
Satellite image of Superstorm Sandy taken at 10 AM EDT Tuesday. Image NASA GSFC. Click for info at Climate Progress

Did Sandy happen because of global climate change? Answer: It's quite possible according to one of the world's leading climate science experts, Dr. Michael Mann from Penn Sate University and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines:

Climate scientists can see that climate change is playing a role in setting the context for these storms, in particular the record levels of North Atlantic ocean warmth that is available to feed these storms with energy and moisture. Some of the more robust connections we can draw: 1) a foot of sea level rise over past century contributed to a worse peak coastal surge (13ft at Battery Park in NYC) than otherwise would have been observed and (2) near-record SSTs off east coast of U.S. (some--though obviously not all---of which can be attributed to anthropogenic warming) almost certainly added energy and moisture to the storm. In fact, the increased flooding and rainfall associated w/ tropical cyclones and hurricanes due to warmer SSTs over which they are forming and traveling, is one of the most robust climate change impacts on these storms.

In short, we can't blame the existence of a single hurricane on global warming just like we can't blame a single roll of snake-eyes on loaded dice -- but we've been rolling a lot of snake-eyes lately.

  • Since we have no idea which of the many, many Mitt Romneys would show up in D.C., here's another good reason not to find out: Mitt Romney's Stem Cell Position May Put Research Funding At Risk.
  • Curiosity is busy checking out rocks and snapping this very cool self portrait, meanwhile Felix the skydiver should probably stay out of science policy and stick to jumping out of high altitude balloons.
  • All carbon solar cells -- which, being without pollution or much in the way of catastrophic environmental damage potential, probably wouldn't fit in real well to a many Romn-eyed administration either.
  • Enough about the evolution of furry ratty derarives like us or dogs, how about those featherbutts?
    A Yale-led scientific team has produced the most comprehensive family tree for birds to date, connecting all living bird species — nearly 10,000 in total — and revealing surprising new details about their evolutionary history and its geographic context.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I know it's trite, but it bears repeating. (13+ / 0-)

    No single weather event can be directly attributed to climate change, but the overwhelming evidence is that climate change is real, and that we humans are responsible for it.

    Job creators?? Imagine what George Carlin would do with that. -7.25 -6.21

    by Tim DeLaney on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 06:08:32 AM PDT

    •  True. But... (6+ / 0-)

      We have now had Irene and Sandy, both major storms, in consecutive years.  I cannot remember that happening in my lifetime.  That's not a single event.

      "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

      by Candide08 on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:00:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A perfect statement, just as Mann says it's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tim DeLaney, DarkSyde

      possible that Sandy was caused or enhanced by global warming (yeah, he said climate change).

      It IS possible, but even the apparent "rolling a lot of snake-eyes" isn't enough to say more than that in an relatively short period of time, and, honestly, all of recorded history is a relatively short period of time.

      Randomness all but guarantees odd patterns because anything that prevent odd patterns from arising would violate the definition of randomness.  Over enough times and repetitions they disappear, but over short times and small numbers -- defined as appropriate to what you're studying -- very non-random appearing patterns are guaranteed to happen.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:02:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dinotrac (0+ / 0-)

        You are pretty reasonable, and you sound like you know a lot more about it than me.  But I had a thought the other day.  How long did it take Midwest farmers to realize that their practices caused the Dust Bowl?  It's not exactly out of reach that man made practices can change what otherwise would be the natural order of things.  

        Have some peanut butter....Romney's toast.

        by rosabw on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 12:02:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is one of the problems... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rosabw, PeterHug

          at some point you have to take a leap, even when you can't know.

          The thing is, even if we can't say with any certainty that Sandy was caused or magnified by global warming, we know that global warming is happening and that bad things are the inevitable result.  With so many other reasons to reduce carbon footprints -- like the fact that the rest of the world is finally catching up economically, multiplying demand for energy -- we have ample reason to get our butt-ends in gear.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 12:43:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Quite incorrect. (0+ / 0-)

      Weather is the product of a global system and temperature is a primary input and variable of that chaotic system.

      All current weather is at least partially affected by global warming since it is a product of the system and some trends in the system are irrefutably a product of global warming.

      So I would say quite the opposite: it bears repeating that global warming is affecting the weather, Full Stop.

      This may seem like splitting hairs, but it isn't; if you think global weather systems produce discrete "single events" that may or may not have been affected by global warming, then may I ask you to prove that assertion, logically or by example? IOW, how does a major variable in the system NOT affect local outcomes?

      Sorry, but I have to refute your basic reasoning as inconsistent with the reality of our planet's weather system. Such reasoning is fodder for denialist arguments that have no merit, suggest you re-think this.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 09:05:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very reasonable, but largely irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

        The fact is that Sandy could have been a freak outcome of chance weather events even if CO2 levels in the atmosphere had never changed in the last couple centuries. In practice, there is no certain way to connect the dots of CO2 emissions with the damage caused by Sandy.

        It is only the weight of other evidence that enables us to connect CO2 emissions to Hurricane Sandy. Without detailed measurements of historic CO2 concentrations, global temperatures, glacier melting and retreat, disappearance of arctic sea ice, changes in sea level, and so forth, there is no smoking gun.

        Granted, there is scientific theory that supports the reality of climate change. And you are certainly, in my opinion, correct in saying that weather systems are determined by climate change--that is, by changes in temperature. There is no daylight between your scientific view and mine.

        The problem is that, in order to get anything useful done in the realm of politics, we must convince the distinguished senator from Louisiana or Texas or Oklahoma (and more importantly, their constituents) that a problem exists. Simply telling them so is less than useless. They will only be convinced by the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence, and then only grudgingly.

        You and I know that there is undoubtedly a causal connection between CO2 emissions and hurricane Sandy. We know that only by inference because we have seen megabytes of supporting evidence. But the problem of dealing with it is political, not scientific.

        Job creators?? Imagine what George Carlin would do with that. -7.25 -6.21

        by Tim DeLaney on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:09:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Morning DarkSyde (6+ / 0-)

    I posted this a few days ago for people who need some entertainment while waiting to dry out.

    Dan Otte's Improbable Tale
    http://www.danottesymposium.com/...

    I always try to share Dan here because he is a fantastic national treasure. He is a very shy man and does not promote himself. I think he should be ask to speak at a TED event. But like I said he is very shy, but a really fun person to be on an African game safari with!
    He won Leidy Medal for pete sake!!!!
    http://articles.philly.com/...

  •  What the heck is wrong with DailyKos lately? (6+ / 0-)

    Can't get on for hours and hours, comments are way down, keep getting 503 error.... Does this malfunction have something to do with the storm?

  •  Loved the bit about birds. (6+ / 0-)

    Though the article didn't mention one thing: rapid speciation usually occurs because there was a mass extinction event of some kind.  Whether the birds?  The last Ice Age, perhaps, wiped out a lot of bird species and left a huge number of related niches empty.  The birds, once they relocated to that particular biome, evolved and spread out to fill them.

    It also means that, unless we humans as a species wipe the birds completely out, they will be one of the first taxonomic Classes to come back and fill the niches humans leave empty.

    •  One of the surprising results of the paper (4+ / 0-)

      is that speciation rates of birds seem to have been increasing over time rather than slowing down over the last 50 million years and the diversity in the tropics is high largely because of the greater age of tropical environments.  The paper itself does mention fluctuating environmental conditions at high latitudes (i.e. repeated ice ages) as driving diversification rates for some groups of birds.

      Reading a commentary on the paper at Nature's website and briefly looking at the paper itself there is reason for caution.  The phylogeny of all birds seems to be somewhat of a piecemeal affair - taking existing phylogenies and adding in information from more recent studies and using the standard taxonomy in place of a phylogeny when no other information is available.

      It certainly is interesting and thought provoking but it sounds like it should be regarded as pretty speculative at this point.

      "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

      by matching mole on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:09:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It does seem speculative in that light... (0+ / 0-)

        ...but it's still one heck of an interesting dive into the world of cladistics and phylogeny for me.  I'm much more a molecular guy then a taxonomist...and I've long studied where the two meet.  DNA changed many many family trees, but it's reaching its limit of practicality; you can only get so much from ancient DNA samples, and not all polymorphisms may be significant from a family tree point of view.

  •  I don't know if Sandy was climate change (7+ / 0-)

    but next Thursday, ECMWF is forecasting a noreaster which will have 90 mile per hour winds in the northeastern states.  This storm pops up out of nowhere off North Carolina on Wednesday.   This again is a six day forecast by the Europeans but they were right on the money last time.

    ECMWF forecast

    Mitt Romney's moral compass points to the Cayman Islands.

    by captainlaser on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 06:32:07 AM PDT

    •  New York has a low frequency of extratropical (7+ / 0-)

      storms but they had Irene last year, Sandy this year and if this puppy above holds out to be true, you cannot deny that the frequency of severe extratropical cyclones has changed.

      Mayor Bloomberg is starting to get it but other governors and mayors are in denial or putting their heads in the sand hoping it will miss them.  Baltimore and DC dodged a bullet last week by about 100 miles of storm track.  There is very little from keeping the Potomac out of the White House and maybe flooding the White House basement and the Capitol's tunnels would bring some reality to Washington.

      Mitt Romney's moral compass points to the Cayman Islands.

      by captainlaser on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 06:40:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We may need to redefine "extratropical" (6+ / 0-)

        It seems to have migrated north at least 5 degrees latitude of where we assume it is.

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 06:48:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In a three year period? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        walkshills

        Of course you can deny it.

        Repeat after me: randomness guarantees that strange things will happen in small samples.  Not most, but some.

        If you're going use science as your backdrop, do it right.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:04:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is a prescient article by MIT scientists (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lavorare

          talking about Manhattan storm surge of 11 ft being a "one in 500 year" event.  There was a 13 ft surge from Sandy.   Having Sandy and Irene back to back in two years is a greater than 1:10000 probability.

          Lin and Emanuel article.

          They make the case that climate change is changing these probabilities to 1:3 - 1:20 year events.  You can change the size of your dice but the odds of snakeeyes doesn't change.  But when you change to tetrahedral dice, you need to change your odds.

          Mitt Romney's moral compass points to the Cayman Islands.

          by captainlaser on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 08:28:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Interesting, but ex post facto observations (0+ / 0-)

            mean nothing.  It's the same thing as somebody walking out of a casino with a pile of winnings and realizing they were lucky as opposed to walking in and knowing that they will be lucky.

            Richard Feynman used to do a bit in his physics classes.

            It went something like this:

            I went through the parking lot this morning and I saw two cars with with Illinois license plates and the letter 'M' in the number.

            What are the chances of that?

            The answer:
            100%.  They were there to be noticed.  He didn't notice all of the combinations that could have been there but weren't noticed.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 09:12:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  And still people don't believe climate change (10+ / 0-)

    I posted this video last night on my Facebook page:

    While some people clicked the "like" button... I also got these replies:

    From a lawyer:  

    Whoever made this video is an idiot. He was making fun of Obama's grandiose vision of himself as some sort of figure not unlike Neo from the Matrix
    From a firefighter:  
    Sad that you would even post this propaganda at this time.. Especially from a guy who lives on the island.. Liberals have no shame
    My reply to them:  
    I don't think its propaganda. For how long has the GOP seen climate change as a joke? For how long have they ignored, belittled the scientific evidence? That is the point of the video. There have been people warning about climate change for over 30 years and they have treated by the right as a joke, charlatans, etc. If they had been listened to, and actions taken- how might our environment be different today?
    And yes, I do live on Staten Island and I've seen the devastation first hand and I've been helping at an evacuation center- my high school.  In fact, right now about six senior citizens from an evacuated nursing home are waking up in my classroom!
  •  from the small narrow (5+ / 0-)

    minded minds of the rw zealots, sandy wasn't the result of global warming it was a notice from god on the states of the ne because of their pagan like behavior and anti family attitude toward the scripture, you are being punished besides we are not intellectually sophisticated enough to understand any science but faith is easier and allows us to hate whom we choose.

  •  Those who still deny anthropogenic global .... (8+ / 0-)

    warming are somewhat akin to the critics of Galileo and are totally related to critics of Darwinian evolution, as they are often the same people.

    The money for Curiosity was well spent, although I might have a different opinion of a manned mission. Considering what we spend on in this country it was very worthy of the cost.  The knowledge gained is priceless.  I will agree that we need more knowledge of our own planet, but I don't see why we can't do both.

    Good diary DarkSyde!

    •  The money is still here, on earth. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maryabein, Aunt Pat, maizenblue, pimutant

      We didn't send it to Mars. So how was it wasted? Gawd, I figured that out when I was a teenager and fifty years later, I'm still screaming it. We didn't send 24 billion dollars to the moon! That money went into people's pockets. Maybe you think it should go into somebody else's pocket. That's your opinion. But it's not gone. It's not burnt up like gasoline in your car. A lot of people's concept of money is like a baby playing peek-a-boo, if they don't see it, it's gone.

      We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

      by PowWowPollock on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:01:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well said PWP. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        walkshills

        I remember almost exactly 4 years ago some people were complaining about the amount of money being spent for an election celebration in Chicago. But it was money going to people setting up the sound system, building the stage, providing security, etc - a mini "stimulus". I saw, and still see, no harm in that.

        I was drawn to the flame because of the light, but got lost in the smoke.

        by maizenblue on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:34:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Are they any worse than those who point at (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, walkshills

      Sandy and say that it was the result of global warming?

      Those folks wrap the mantle of science around themselves, then ignorantly berate anybody who could doubt this latest sign from the heavens.

      Even Mann doesn't say that.

      He says, effectively, that there are smoking guns and good reason to believe that warming played a role.

      Which is correct.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:11:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All the Difference in the World. One Position Woul (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        walkshills

        lead society to act, the other would lead it to keep worsening the problem.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:36:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, they are much worse. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Desert Scientist

        Desert Scientist was talking about global warming denial, not saying that n=1 (Sandy actually makes n=2...and n=3 is coming next week) proves global warming exists.  Yes, at a fundamental level, saying that Sandy was caused by global warming is unscientific.  But how much more data do we need before we are certain that global warming is affecting the weather?  It's not like we are trying to pin down the mass of the Higgs here (not that there's anything wrong with that).  We are talking about the welfare and safety of millions of people.

        So, to expand on "yes, the people denying global climate change are worse:" they are way worse. They are selfish, greedy liars who have put industry interests before health and safety. Or they are ignoramuses who haven't bothered to question their sources. The NYT reported that Philip Cooney, an Am Petr Inst lobbyist edited reports by government scientists to downplay the environmental impact of fossil fuel. Deniers smear the reputations of scientists, saying that scientists have a "conflict of interest," that they just want to get grant money.

        Climate scientists want to discover the truth. Global climate activists are motivated by concern for Earth.  Global warming deniers are motivated by greed, or are parroting what they have been told by the energy industry or their lackies.

        As to your comment about ignoring the problem vs doing something ("action or inaction"): please do tell me how acting on global warming would make things worse.  Our president has enacted tougher fuel efficiency standards, something the WSJ editorial page has said for years would make cars unsafe.  Not true. Chinese industry is eating our lunch as far as alternate energy goes, so somebody is making money off windmills and solar panels.  

        Do you think that we should not panic? I am willing to accept some lower standard of proof linking storm severity to climate change because of what is at stake. The risk associated with reducing emissions is fairly low. So I am somewhat in favor of panicking, especially if it means driving less, biking to work more, eating less meat, switching to LED and fluorescent lighting, and turning those lighs off when I'm not using them.  

        "Bulshytt: Speech (typically but not necessarily commercial or political) that employs euphemism, convenient vagueness, numbing repetition, and other such rhetorical subterfuges to create the impression that something has been said." --Anathem

        by lavorare on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 01:16:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Splitting the world into denialists and true (0+ / 0-)

          believers serves no purpose.

          We have enough religious orders as it is.

          We need action, reasoned discussion, and persuasion.

          Those who can't be persuaded are of no consequence.

          Those who can be persuaded are potential actors for good.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 01:30:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  One thing that really irritates me is that ... (0+ / 0-)

          we scientists are often accused of being only interested in careerism - our next grant.  While that is probably true of some (you can always find such examples) most of us are not at all interested in getting funding for false ideas and base our reputations on being honest followers of the scientific method, as much as is humanly possible. I will note that I, as a professional biologist, never got one cent for research on global climate change.  It is true that one event is not indicative, but it is utterly foolish to ignore the mountain of data that has accumulated (as it did for Darwin's theory).

          I have no use for "careerism" in science.  A successful scientist does not need to exaggerate or falsify data.  There is no shortcut and many studies will not give the data one would wish - nature does not easily reveal her secrets.  I may not have elucidated quantum mechanics, but then I did not "discover" cold fusion either!  The research I did provided some ground work for future work, one of the best results one can expect from most honest research.  The lucky few who are able to do better are not common, but they also do not make things up! The dishonest scientist is eventually found out and looses what reputation they had.    

  •  All carbon solar cells (4+ / 0-)

    Amazing. I bet they can push efficiency to 4-5% before the end of the decade. Who will need rare earths when that happens?

    And yes, I'm looking at you, China!

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 06:58:58 AM PDT

  •  Thanks DarkSyde (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, walkshills

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:18:14 AM PDT

  •  Sci American Blogger: Climate Change Caused Sandy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    walkshills

    I'm not seeing much commentary on this aspect of the storm, that the path is closely linked to climate change because open arctic waters lead to the blocking highs that steered Sandy onshore.

    Mark Fischetti:

    ...why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 07:34:35 AM PDT

  •  The way to explain global warming (0+ / 0-)

    to people is to ask them whether they think they would be more likely to be robbed if they moved into a high crime neighborhood. Global warming is the same deal. Why would you want to move the only planet you have into a bad climate neighborhood; you are just asking for trouble.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 08:13:58 AM PDT

  •  Yesssssss. Dinosaurs, aka birds, continue to (0+ / 0-)

    evolve; take that you pesky mammals.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 08:41:47 AM PDT

  •  I read an interesting article, one of many that (0+ / 0-)

    has been in Rolling Stone lately, about climate chnage/global warming. The most recent article talked about the big loss of Arctic ice, and at least one climate scientist said that he thought the consequnces for this would be worst for the eastern US and for Europe. Let us all hope they are wrong, but we are now in "unchartered territory" with the amount of ice loss and that effect on world weather..its scary.

  •  BTW, Michael Mann is suing The National Review (0+ / 0-)

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/10/climate-scientist-gets-compared-to-jerry-sandusky-files-libel-suit/">For libel, and I hope his lawyer rakes them over the coals.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 09:17:45 AM PDT

  •  That Question Is A Non-sequitur So We (0+ / 0-)

    need to stay with the big picture, and stop falling for the tricks of the deniers who started that nonsense.

  •  Someone Still Has a Question? (0+ / 0-)

    Did Sandy happen because of global climate change? Answer: Yes.

    Anything short of that is short of the truth.

    It's time to stop equivocating on the link between climate change and weather. If you pump more energy into the environment you pump up the storms.

    Of course a storm named "Sandy" might have hit New York square on even without climate change. But that's not the issue. It would simply have been a smaller storm because there would have been less energy behind it.

    Look me in the eyes and tell me, did Sandy happen because of global climate change?

    Which hurricane do you remember devastating NYC before the climate changed? I can't name any 800-mile-wide hurricanes soaking the entire mid-Atlantic before this. And I'm pretty old.

  •  SST = sea surface temperature (0+ / 0-)

    Just in case its use wasn't clear in the long quote from Dr. Mann that leads this post.

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